6.11.14 [Weekly Reviews]

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Manifest Destiny #7 (Image): I’m going to call this the #BookOfTheWeek, because it continues to fire on all cylinders. The art is ridiculously good, due in no small part to the colors of Owen Gieni, looking period appropriate, but operating with modern flair. The Corps of Discovery attempts to put the startling events of La Charrette behind them and pushes further West. It’s a new crew with a new mission which encounters new discoveries, like some gigantic ladybugs! It’s a simple thing exaggerated, but takes on weird campy horror notes that feel just right in a historical speculative fiction book. The storytelling possibilities are basically limitless, and with my love of history and a sharp visual aesthetic with bold colors, this book is totally in my wheelhouse. I also wholeheartedly recommend that variant cover by Marc Silvestri and Todd McFarlane, something I never thought I'd be saying. Grade A+.

Wasteland #55 (Oni Press): I was really impressed by that opening shot because of the glorious detail Chris Mitten is able to put into the cityscape. Mitten’s flashbacks are full of syrupy ink, which seems to fit the heavy somber tone of the looming apocalypse. Antony Johnston includes something new for Wasteland, newsfeed, which fast forwards us through the discovery of Adam in Antarctic ice, weaves in religion via the similarities to biblical Nephilim, and centers the entire issue (series?) on the implications of man messing with genetic engineering, and by extension a man vs. nature motif that's lingered over The Big Wet since day one. We track the recruitment of a scientist into Project Adam, examining a perfect-condition, high-brain activity human, as global eco-collapse is impending. At this point, I guess I’ll just say that this is not really where I expected the series to go in the final arc, and that’s fantastic! The ability to surprise a grizzled old reader like me is terrific, and the series has never been more engaging. Keep in mind I say that as someone who has been highly engaged by the series since issue #1. This book has been going immediately to the top of the read pile since the final arc began. Grade A.

Star Wars #18 (Dark Horse): I’ve really been enjoying the way Brian Wood plays up the tension between Darth Vader and Emperor Palpatine. It’s something we really only glimpsed traces of in ESB, which he’s able to play into with this story set just before that movie occurred. This arc resolves the “Leia’s Wedding” storyline on Arrochar with a dramatic reveal of the Ion Cannon project. It kind of makes you want a spin-off series about The Adventures of Mon Mothma, but I guess that’s neither here nor there. I don’t think any of the art teams have come close to matching Carlos D’Anda line for line, but the colors of Gabe Eltaeb do their best to ensure a consistent aesthetic as some of these other artists have rotated in and out. Two issues left, and I'm dying to see how this final run will leave things. Grade A.

Tales of Honor #3 (Image): Not a lot to say about Tales of Honor other than the fact that I’ve really been enjoying learning about this new universe. It postulates that man took to the stars for colonization in 2130 with the largest diaspora in the history of mankind. The end result is interstellar politics between galaxy-states and armed conflict in the tradition of Star Wars, The Red Star, etc. The Honorverse is a very rich and detailed place. For just $2.99, the book feels dense, and I mean that in the best way possible. There’s plenty to absorb, you have to linger on pages to take in all of the information about the different worlds and military bits, but it never feels like a chore, only like you’re truly getting your money’s worth. It’s about reader discovery and the slick sheen of Sang-Il Jeong’s art only enriches the experience. Grade A.

Starlight #4 (Image): Starlight is a fun series, basically Buck Rogers coming out of retirement, with lots of moving parts. There are interesting (untrustworthy) sidekicks, new great female characters introduced, and one daring prison break. It’s a fast-paced, light-hearted adventure book that occasionally pushes out moments of gravitas which make up for the sometimes too-pleased-with-itself meta moments in the writing from Mark Millar. That aside, you should really come for the Goran Parlov art. He’s a strong artist and his work has never looked better, especially in color. Grade A-.

Wildfire #1 (Image): I tried Wildfire because writer Matt Hawkins has banked some credibility with me considering his books Think Tank and the aforementioned adaptation of Tales of Honor. It was great fun to see the dire nature of LA in flames during the cold open, and the core debate about genetically modified foods is worthwhile, but the dialogue feels pretty heavy with staged moments and characters info-dumping on the audience. There’s a lot of facts to get across on each side of the pro/con debate, but it sometimes doesn’t feel like it’s occurring in an organic way. That inconsistency is apparent in the art too, with some great moments (that opening spread almost had a whiff of Clayton Crain to it), but then several instances of awkward poses and weird proportions that made figures feel off-model. Grade B.


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